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Mahatma's message more relevant today: PM

india Updated: Oct 02, 2006 14:37 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said that Mahatma Gandhi's message is all the more relevant today as genocide, ethnic cleansing, religious and territorial wars and terrorism afflict many parts of the world.

"In this background, the Mahatma's philosophy of peace, tolerance and the interdependence of humankind is surely even more relevant than a hundred years ago", Manmohan Singh said.

Speaking at the Satyagraha Centenary Celebration at the Kingsmead Stadium here, the Prime Minister said in an age when people worry about the so-called "clash of civilisations", Gandhiji's message would have been that it is indeed possible for us to work for the "confluence of civilisations".

"I have come here today to join you in commemorating the centenary of Satyagraha, the mass movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in Johannesburg on Sep 11, 1906.

"In remembering Satyagraha, we pay homage to the Mahatma. And in honouring the Mahatma, we honour South Africa. It is here that he found the strength, developed the ideas and forged the tools used to resist racial discrimination here, and win independence at home in India," the prime minister said.

Quoting the Father of the Nation on the origins of the historic movement, Manmohan Singh said: "Gandhiji himself explained the term Satyagraha in these words: 'Truth (Satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force...the Force which is born of Truth and love or non-violence.'"

"What of the relevance of his message today? Genocide, ethnic cleansing, religious and territorial wars, and the ever-growing menace of international terrorism are afflicting many parts of the world. In this background, the Mahatma's philosophy of peace, tolerance and the interdependence of humankind is surely even more relevant than a hundred years ago.

"In an age when people worry about the so-called 'clash of civilisations', Gandhiji's message would have been that it is indeed possible for us to work for the 'confluence of civilisations'.

Through the institutions of a pluralist democracy and the processes of inclusive development we can make our world safer for peace, equality and freedom," the prime minister said.

"On this centenary of the launch of satyagraha, let each of us pledge, as those in the Empire Theatre did a hundred years ago, to do everything in our power to bring this about," he said.

On a three-day visit of South Africa, Manmohan Singh on Saturday visited the Pietermaritzburg railway station the young Gandhi was thrown out of a first-class carriage because of the colour of his skin.

On Sunday morning, he visited the Phoenix Settlement founded by Gandhiji in 1904.

"I must express my gratitude - indeed the gratitude of all the Indian people - to the government of free South Africa for what they have done to preserve the legacy of Gandhiji in this country.

"South Africa has shown that it is possible to resolve even the bitterest of differences with a spirit of reconciliation. You live the life Mahatma died for. The victims are working together with those who injured them," the prime minister said.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni and Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma were present on the occasion.

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